Luther's Cafeteria to Community program celebrates three-year anniversary

This November marks the third anniversary of the Luther College Cafeteria to Community Program, a partnership of the Luther College Center for Sustainable Communities, Dining Services and the First Lutheran Church Food Pantry. Over the past three years, more than 30,000 pounds of food have been packaged and shared with Northeast Iowans through this program.

On Nov. 17, Luther College hosted a partnership lunch to celebrate the successes of the program with representatives from Decorah's First Lutheran Church Food Pantry, Luther College Dining Services and Luther's Center for Sustainable Communities.

The Cafeteria to Community program launched in November 2013 after a student collaborated with the Dining Services and Sustainability Offices to work through details and logistics of the program. Student workers and volunteers from campus and the community have been packaging and delivering food to the food pantry twice a week since. According to organizers the program has provided a wonderful volunteer opportunity on campus as well as a great way for Luther to get food into the homes of people who need it. 

"Good things are worth celebrating. In this season of giving thanks, we are especially grateful for the dedicated volunteer staff at the First Lutheran Church Food Pantry that work to provide good food to 500-600 households each month. Their work and creativity with programs like the Farmer's Market Coupon Program and Luther's Cafeteria to Community is truly amazing," said Maren Beard, assistant director for Luther's Center for Sustainable Communities.

The program relies heavily on strong partnerships with First Lutheran Church in Decorah, Luther's Dining Services and Center for Sustainable Communities, student volunteers and RSVP-a national organization of volunteer networks that matches individuals with programs in need of help.

Over the past three years, the program has been assisted through grants from the Winneshiek County Community Foundation and the Alliant Energy Foundation to support the purchase of containers.

The Center for Sustainable Communities is a catalyst for change at Luther College and in the surrounding region as the coordinator for all sustainability initiatives on campus. The center's mission is to promote sustainability on campus and in the region. For more information about Luther's Center for Sustainable Communities visit the college's website: http://www.luther.edu/sustainability/.